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Paving a Path to an Industry 4.0 Future with Adaptive and Smart Manufacturing

Paving a Path to an Industry 4.0 Future with Adaptive and Smart Manufacturing
Posted 03/13/2023 by Karl Wachswender

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There’s a lot of recent buzz around Industry 4.0, a common term used to describe the increasing digitization, automation, and connected computing intelligence that’s emerging in the manufacturing industry. With Industry 4.0, the value and capabilities of cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), secure connectivity, and AI have the potential to come together to bring about smarter, more reliable, and more efficient operations in manufacturing.

However, with the rise of Industry 4.0 and the advancement in these areas, there comes a need for higher-level technology and services. Specifically, flexible and secure tools are needed to drive connectivity and higher-level data is required to optimize systems, services, and overall manufacturing.

Industrial Automation Trend

Meeting Industry Standards with OPC UA and TSN

Data collection is becoming increasingly more important as we move closer to Industry 4.0. In order to gather necessary data, OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) and Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) are becoming more popular.

A machine-to-machine communication protocol, OPC UA is a platform-independent service-oriented architecture that integrates OPC specifications into frameworks, simplifies connectivity to streamline integration, automates systems and software applications, all with security at its foundation. With OPC UA, you can easily connect remote devices in the cloud or at the Edge, enable diagnostics, monitoring, reporting, and other services.

Even further, combined with the outstanding real-time capabilities of TSN, OPC UA is a key solution to the evolving manufacturing industry. Specifically, when you overlay OPC UA with TSN at the sensor and actuator level, you’re able to achieve continuous insight and data flow without distributing operations or security.

While OPC UA is typically only supported on certain devices and can only share a fraction of data available, there is a movement towards creating an open-source stack for OPC UA over TSN, specifically for Amazon’s FreeRTOS, to simplify and accelerate the development of efficient, smart, and secure field devices.

Industry Standards - OPC UA

Bolstering OPC UA with FPGAs

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), a type of semiconductor chip that can be programmed to perform almost any type of computing function, present a unique opportunity for OPC UA and TSN. This is due to the unique and highly specialized nature of these devices that allows them to be easily customized for specific roles.

Not only do FPGAs provide device makers with the ability to create a specifically designed engine or co-processor, they also have the added benefit of being reprogrammable or updated after the system has been deployed. For manufacturing, in particular, this capability can be incredibly important during the development process for a specific machine as product requirements often change. In addition, industrial equipment often has product lifetimes measured in decades (not just years), so the ability to update and upgrade existing machines to support new standards or meet evolving technical demands can prove to be invaluable. Additionally, alongside the growing need for data, FPGAs can process data or perform certain functions in a consistent, time-sensitive manner.

However, as powerful, flexible, and capable as FPGAs can be, some believe them to be challenging for software developers to write applications for. Due to their unique architectures, many standard development environments and programming tools won’t work with FPGAs. To overcome this challenge, it’s critical to find tools that are optimized like the Lattice Automate solution stack, which was recently updated with new capabilities in version 3.0.

Lattice Automate 3.0 Solution Stack

How Automate 3.0 Can Optimize FPGAs and Drive OPC UA Success

Lattice’s Automate 3.0 solution stack accelerates the development of smart automation systems with easy to use, low-power, FPGA-based, RISC®-V software programmable solutions that improve the user experience and accelerate the development of applications including robotics, embedded real time networking, predictive maintenance, functional safety (FuSa) and security.

Additionally, Automate 3.0 utilizes OPC UA cloud communication, UPD hardware acceleration, PCIe® DMA support, Single Wire Aggregation, CNC, motion control, and more, to help industrial automation system designers evaluate, develop, and deploy the best applications.

With Automate 3.0, industrial automation system designers are able to create FPGA-based, RISC-V software programmable industrial automation applications, such as CNC, robotics, scalable multi-channel motor control with predictive maintenance, real-time industrial networking, and local-to-cloud networking with OPC UA.

Creating an Industry 4.0 Future

As we move closer and closer to Industry 4.0, we are seeing an increased demand for security, flexibility, and connectivity. FPGAs are the ideal solution to address all three and, with Lattice’s Automate 3.0 solution stack, the manufacturing industry is bound to be faster, smarter, and safer.

To learn more about how the Lattice Automate solution stack can accelerate industrial automation and support Industry 4.0 applications, reach out to speak with our team.